Transitioning to hospice care can be a little scary for many families living in Maquoketa and elsewhere. Certainly, the whole situation of someone needing this type of end-of-life care isn’t what anyone expected.
But ultimately, the hospice experience proves to be a way to help families spend their final time together with a loved one and also focus on their quality of life as much as possible rather than staying in a lonely, noisy hospital or assisted living center.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice are certainly advocates of the hospice and home health experience if it works for the client and their family.
A big part of what can make hospice a positive experience is the staff, who are all very good at reassuring families that hospice isn’t as scary as they imagined it would be.
Whether they’re aides, therapists or nurses, they’re all committed to the principles of hospice and making sure the client and their family have the best care possible.
Some clients may only be needing hospice services for a few days, others may need them for weeks or months. It depends on when they transition to this service and their medical condition.
But whenever they sign up, they can count on all sorts of customized services and quality care for their current needs. They and their family will receive plenty of support at this challenging time. Although the experience is new to many families, the staff much more familiar.
A nurse’s role
An especially valuable part of the hospice community is the hospice nurse.
He or she usually has had the same training and certifications as other nurses but has chosen to work in the hospice field. They sometimes have taken advanced classes for additional certification working with hospice patients, but in some cases, a lot of their knowledge comes from personality and experience.
Hospice nurses typically possess a lot of compassion, empathy, and emotional strength since they will be with people in their final days. This means they’re ready for anything, including taking part in sometimes serious conversations about life, death, and what, if anything, is after, plus all of the physical and emotional changes that people go through toward the end of life.
Patients may go through the grieving process for themselves – they may deal with all sorts of emotions from day to day. They may feel fearful and sad and may be in pain. They may be anxious one minute and at peace others. They may worry less about themselves but may worry more about how their families will fare after they’re gone.
Family members also will have their own concerns and a variety of feelings as they deal with what’s happening, and sometimes the client and the family may be at different stages in their grieving process, which can create conflict.
So a nurse must focus on how a client is doing physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually.
A hospice nurse often turns into a key person to assess how a client is doing and what services they may need. They can report to a hospice doctor or provider, or to the client’s primary provider, although some providers hand off the patient to those specializing in hospice care.
Depending on a client’s medical needs and requests, a nurse’s duties could include connecting them with a physical therapist, a massage therapist, or an occupational therapist, or checking the progress of these if they’ve already been assigned.
It could also include working with various home health aides to see if the client has any non-skilled needs that they can use help with, everything from light housework to meal preparation to transportation and errands. These services can go a long way in helping a client feel better and not so overwhelmed.
Hospice nurses can also be a good connection point for the client’s family members or any private caregivers. They can answer questions, let them know what they can do to help, or hear their concerns and fears. (Sometimes a family member may not want to bother or burden the client, who may be dealing with their own challenges.)
Hospice nurses can also let the family know about respite care options, which can help give people a break from each other and help recharge everyone’s batteries.
Celebrate nurses this month
Great nurses should be recognized all year long for their abilities and efforts in providing comfort and care.
But the month of May has a variety of opportunities for further recognition.
National Nurses Week takes place May 6-12. Within the week, there are a variety of other observances and celebrations within the week including International Nurses Day 2021 and National School Nurse Day, and National Student Nurses Day. Several states also have their own observances.
The American Nurses Association has been celebrating the profession since 1896 in different ways, but the first National Nurses Week was made official in 1954, which was the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s first trip to Crimea. She remains seen as the role model of the modern nurse and her birthday is celebrated each May 12.
The first National Recognition Day for Nurses took place in 1982.